The Bible


Matthew 5:1-12 : The Beatitudes


Study the Inner Meaning

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 1017, 2371, 2658, 3863, 8002, 9263, 9818

Apocalypse Revealed 209, 285, 323, 526, 956

Conjugial Love 482

Divine Providence 33

The Lord 49

Sacred Scripture 51, 57

Life 17, 84

Heaven and Hell 357

True Christian Religion 96, 156, 226, 440

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 118, 122, 304, 386, 612, 695, 746, ...

Spiritual Experiences 1325

Marriage 96

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 6, 12, 20, 30, 68, 81, ...

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

2 Kings 22:20

Psalms 17:15, 24:3, 4, 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34, 41:2, 119:28, 126:5

Proverbs 2:21, 11:17, 12:20, 21:21

Isaiah 51:1, 57:15, 61:2

Jeremiah 15:15, 31:25

Word/Phrase Explanations

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

'A multitude' relates to truths.

into a mountain
'To be taken up into a mountain,' as in Revelation 21:10, signifies being taken up into the third heaven, because it says 'in the spirit.'...

A disciple in Matthew 10:41 signifies charity and at the same time, faith from the Lord. It disciple signifies the truth of life, and a...

To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

"The Word talks frequently about aiding the poor and needy. People in possession of external truths who have not yet been brought to internal truths...

'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

'Hunger,' or 'famine,' signifies evils of life. 'Hunger,' or 'famine,' signifies desiring good from affection, because 'bread,' in the internal sense, is the good of...

The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

'To be satiated,' as in Revelation 19:21, signifies being nourished by lusts, and taking them in with delight.

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

There are only a few references to "persecution" in Swedenborg, but they say it means "to harrass and slander out of hatred," and it generally...

To revile something – or "reproach," as it is often translated – represents making a direct and deliberate attack on what is spiritually true, in...

There are only a few references to "persecution" in Swedenborg, but they say it means "to harrass and slander out of hatred," and it generally...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

A "reward" in the Bible represents something that brings people together, or brings spiritual states together, and binds them. It's easy to see this in...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here:

What is Meant by The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth?

What did Jesus mean by this phrase? Chelsea digs into Swedenborg's writings and the Bible for insights about the importance of humility in our earthly lives.

The Difference Between Grace and Mercy

Grace and mercy are mentioned a lot in the Bible and both come from God, but what's the difference? We dig into the spiritual difference between these two divine auras and how we can open ourselves up to them.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 Acknowledging Our Mistakes
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Attitudes for Heavenly Happiness
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Be A Peacemaker
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
In the process of trying to be a person who is growing spiritually, there will be mourning. We will see things that are not the way they should be - in ourselves and in the world around us. This sermon examines ways in which we can be comforted?
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Blossoming from the Lord
When we perform acts that agree with the Lord’s teachings in the Word, the Lord will guide them and be in them. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Cleaning Up Our Act
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Compassion for Others
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Does the Lord Forgive?
Lesson and activities looking at the Lord's love and mercy in forgiving us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Echo the Ten Blessings
Help children learn the Ten Blessings by echoing (repeating) each line or finishing each line for you.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 He Makes His Sun Rise on the Evil and the Good
Illustrate the sun shining or the rain falling and being received by two very different kinds of plants: a thorny bush and a fruit tree.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Inspirational Quotation - Let Your Light Shine
Poster showing a lighthouse with the Lord's words telling us to let our light shine.
Picture | Ages over 8

 Let Your Light Shine
Take turns lighting a candle as you "give glory to the Lord" for letting you help Him touch the lives of people around you.
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 "Let your light shine…" Calligraphy
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Loving One Another
This sermon shows that someone who really cares about others will seek to understand the truth so that he may serve in intelligent ways. When this happens, greater blessings are achieved for all. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Loving Others
The Lord wants us to love everyone but the way we love friends will be different than the way we love those who harm us or others.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Matching Quotes with the Ten Blessings
Match each of the Ten Blessings with a quotation from the Old Testament.
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 Memory Verse: Being a Good Neighbor
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Ten Blessings
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Peace Like a River
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Power Under Control
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Protecting Marriage
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Quotes: The Ten Blessings
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Self Awareness
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Separation and Divorce
Marriage is a civil and spiritual covenant. Spiritual laws about divorce and remarriage are not always in agreement with what civil law permits.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

In order for us to receive the Lord's words, we must be simple - simple in the sense of being single-minded, looking to one source of truth, and in having our internal and external thoughts agree. 
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Strength Through Trials
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Ten Blessings Vocabulary Discovery
Explore the meaning of vocabulary used in the Ten Blessings to help you understand what the Lord is teaching us.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 The Blessings of Adversity
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Kingdom of Heaven Is Within
When we think of blessings we do not usually think of sadness, difficulty or want. We usually think of happiness, peace and plenty. Indeed the word blessing means happiness. Why, then, does the Lord seem to say the opposite in the Sermon on the Mount? 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord and His Disciple, Simon Peter
Four scenes about the Lord and Peter from the gospels of Matthew and John, and two later scenes from the book of Acts.
Activity | Ages 11 - 14

 The Lord's Sermon on the Mount
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord’s Ten Blessings
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 The Meaning of the Ten Blessings
When the Lord gave the Sermon on the Mount, He was teaching people the steps leading to a heavenly life. The words He spoke then can still teach us how to follow Him into eternal happiness. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Sermon on the Mount
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Sermon on the Mount (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Blessings
The Ten Blessings from the Sermon on the Mount in a color border.
Picture | Ages over 15

 The Ten Blessings (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Ten Blessings Word Search
Find key words of the Ten Blessings in this word search.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 True Satisfaction
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 What Is Heaven Like?
Emanuel Swedenborg visited heaven. His vivid accounts describe the nature of angels and the communities they live in.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Why Did the Lord Come on Earth?
A lesson and activities exploring the reasons Jesus came on earth and what He accomplished.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 You Are As Happy As You Choose To Be
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18



The Beatitudes      

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

This fresco was created by Franz Xaver Kirchebner in the Parish church of St. Ulrich in Gröden, Italy, which was built in the late 18th century.

These verses, the opening phrases of the Sermon on the Mount, hold some of the Bible’s most beautiful and best-loved poetry. Part of its beauty, though, lies in the fact that the meaning is not quite clear. What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? What does it mean to “inherit the earth” or to be called “the children of God.” The fact that there are many possibilities causes us to linger over the phrases, pondering them.

Understood in the internal sense, these blessings show the spiritual states of the various people who could be receptive of the Lord and the new church he was launching. On a deeper level it shows that states within ourselves that can lead each of us to the Lord and to a deeper understanding of His truth today.

The “poor in spirit” are those who know little about spiritual things, but want to learn. Those that “mourn” are those who want to be good, but see no desire for good in their church. The “meek” are those who love to care for and serve others. To “hunger and thirst after righteousness” shows a desire to rise up, to learn about what’s good and to come to desire it.

The “merciful” are those who love their fellow people. The “pure in heart” are those who love only what is good. “Peacemakers” are those who are in harmony with the Lord, gaining knowledge from Him and wanting what He wants. And to be “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” means acting out of love and care for others, even though you are condemned by others for it.

There’s something of a progression there, from those who simply want to learn to those who actively want to be good people to those who actually are good and acting out of love for others. None of it, though, describes those who are learned in the Jewish traditions, or even necessarily observant in terms of ritual; they are, rather, those who sense that it is possible to be a good person and are willing to make the effort.

And they are promised their rewards! The “kingdom of heaven” is the understanding the angels have of the Lord; “comfort” represents ideas that lead to the good of life; “inheriting the earth” is a state of loving others and being loved by them in return. The overall message is simple: If we truly wish to be good people, and are willing to let the Lord teach us how to be good people, we will end up filled with love and wisdom from Him. And that’s what we need to focus on: The desire to be good, and openness to ideas from the Lord. It’s not about ritual and intellectual “correctness”; it’s about ideas that lead us to be good.

But what of being reviled and persecuted? This depicts temptation, when the hells attack our newborn good desires and true understanding. They cause us to doubt our ability to be truly good and question the ideas that are leading us. And they can do it in many ways, reminding us of the fun we’ll be missing or reminding us of all the bad things we’ve ever done to render us hopeless. They will even attack the Bible and the ideas that come to us through it from the Lord; that’s represented by the idea that people also attacked the prophets.

These states, however, are blessed in their own way; only by battling these evils, which are rooted inside us, can we finally fully embrace the good life we have been striving for. That’s why it is pictured last, and that's why it leads to the “great reward” in heaven.



Spiritual Wealth and Poverty      

By Rev. William Woofenden

"Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." Luke 16:25

Additional readings: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 7, Psalm 1, Psalm 8

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable of judgment, and pictures the rich man as failing in the final judgment and the poor man as attaining the kingdom of heaven. It is not said that one was good and the other bad, but that one was rich and the other poor. And when the rich man asked that Lazarus might be sent to the rich man's house to warn his brothers, Abraham refused the request. This request of the rich man seems to be a legitimate one and the refusal unmerciful.

There are other passages in the Scriptures which seem to teach this same lesson. When the rich young man came to the Lord and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life, the Lord said "Keep the commandments." The rich young man replied, "All these have I kept from my youth up." Then the Lord told, him that he was near the kingdom, but that if he would enter in, he must go and sell all that he had and give to the poor (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, Luke 18:18-23).

Mary in her magnification of Christ was inspired to say, "He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away" (Luke 1:52).

Our text is from one of the Lord's parables, given to teach a lesson which it is important for us to understand, as it deals with our eternal happiness. We need to know who are meant by the rich man and the poor man. If the rich represent the materially rich and the poor those poor in this world's goods, wherein is there any parable? Of the Word it is written, "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (2 Corinthians 3:6). In its letter, the Word often seems hard, contradictory, and even contrary to the laws of the Divine love, but in its inner meaning it is consistent and teaches truths necessary to the attainment of heavenly life. And we know that many of its truths had to be so veiled because men were not ready to receive them.

In the parable the rich man stands for those who have the knowledges of Divine truth and because of this think themselves good—for those who are rich in their own conceit, who ask in the boastfulness of their pride, "What lack I?"

The first words the Lord spoke in the Sermon on the Mount were "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"(Matthew 5:3). These are the poor of our parable. But the parable itself shows what is meant by the rich man. There is one very important word which discloses its meaning. The parable does not say that the rich man had the Lord's good things, the good things of heavenly life. Abraham says to the rich man, "Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things." And the parable tells what these good things were. "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day." His pleasures were those that gratified the senses of the body, the delights of the material world. He knew better. He had Moses and the prophets. And therein was his condemnation. He had the light of the Word, but he was so rich in his self-conceit that he would not hear it. Instead of searching the Scriptures to find the way of life, he thought that he knew enough to choose his own way, and he chose the things that he thought were good. And the parable teaches that he did not attain the kingdom of heaven. Could it be expected that he would?

Is it to be expected that we can make ourselves sensual and selfish, interested only in the things of this world, with no thought for the development of our souls, and then enjoy the life of heaven? Do we think that heavenly life consists in external pleasures and delights?

The rich man was told that no one could bring him a drop of water to cool his parched tongue because a great gulf was fixed between Lazarus in heaven and himself, which neither was able to cross. It seems hard and merciless that Abraham could not send someone across that gulf with at least a cup of cold water.

We knew the Lord to be a God of love, mercy, and forgiveness, and that if it had been within His power, He would have made rivers of water break forth in the rich man's desert. But yet a drop of water could be brought to him. What does this mean?

It means simply this: if a man with all the advantages of the church, with all the teachings and warnings of the Word, chooses to spend his whole life in acquiring and enjoying the things of this world alone, and does not cultivate the higher delights in spiritual things, he becomes a form of worldly desires and pleasures, and when he lays off the material body, these desires will continue to burn, and by the laws of that world they cannot be gratified.

Heaven is a kingdom of unselfish love. As the Lord said to Samuel, "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Heavenly happiness comes from the love of service to others, not from seeking things for self. The parable also pictures the state of the Jewish Church at that time. They had the Word and were proud of their knowledge, but would not share it with others. They would use it only for their own advantage.

To enter heaven we must at least begin to cultivate the loves which reign in heaven. Hell is the kingdom of selfish love. Heaven and hell are opposites. It is said that a great gulf was fixed so that those who would pass could not. That great gulf was fixed by the disorganized internal of the rich man. We may ourselves have seen that great gulf when, in trying to urge someone not to persist in a wrong course, we found the love of self and of self-indulgence so strong that there was no foundation for moral persuasion and no response to reason. That is the great gulf. Not a single truth can be imparted. Not one drop of cold water could be carried across that great chasm.

The parable discloses to us the laws of the spirit. It tells us what our life here is for, that it is given us as an opportunity for the attainment of eternal life. If we wish the true riches, we must lay them up now. If we want any virtue, we must treasure it in the heart, for where our treasure is, there will the heart be also (Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34).

The poor man in the parable is the man poor in spirit, who does not think that he is in himself wise or good, but who looks to the Lord for light and for the power to understand and obey. He is one who sees his weaknesses, his spiritual poverty, who sees the needs of his soul. The way to heaven is through the keeping of the commandments, but there is a right way and a wrong way of keeping them. The rich young man said that he had kept them from his youth up. But he had kept them in order that he might gain the kingdom and he was proud of his success. Keeping the commandments even in this way brings us near the gates of the holy city, but the Lord told him that if he would enter in, he must go and sell all that he had. The riches that he had were his pride, his self-confidence and self-sufficiency. He must come into dependence upon the Lord instead of upon self.

The lesson of the parable is for all men of all time, for all of us are born natural, with tendencies to self-seeking. We form our characters here. We too have Moses and the prophets, and we should not let the great gulf form within us which will separate us from the kingdom for which we are to prepare ourselves.

"Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me that I am the Lord, which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."